The wounded men on the aid ship from the besieged city of Misrata, most of them torn apart by shrapnel and bullets, tell of the bloodiest front in the revolt against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.
They speak of a city under lockdown that has gone weeks without electricity or running water, where snipers have cleared the centre and mortar rounds and rockets rain down at random on residents huddled inside their homes.
The more than 250 patients were brought on Sunday to the rebel port of Benghazi on board a Turkish aid ship, which was to pick up another 100 or so wounded people from the eastern front before steaming on to the Turkish port of Cesme.
On board, a pale Mohammed Muftah, 34, describes how he was sitting at home on a quiet Friday morning when a barrage of mortar rounds fired by Gaddafi’s forces slammed into his residential neighbourhood.
‘They killed entire families, women. I have a neighbour who lost his wife and his three children,’ he said. ‘They did it just to terrorise people.’ Mr Muftah has shrapnel wounds up and down his legs and in his back and neck, but soon he will receive further treatment in Turkey. His wife and six children are still in Misrata.
Mohammed Ahmed, who sits on the mattress next to his, has a thick bandage around his right arm with surgical pins sticking out. He was standing outside his home with friends and neighbours when a mortar bomb exploded next to them, the shrapnel killing six of his neighbours and carving off most of his upper arm. ‘The doctor said it’s serious… it’s down to the bone,’ he said. ‘I’m with the revolution, but I don’t have a gun,’ he said, as tears streamed down his face and his voice broke into sobs. Agencies